Sunday, January 28, 2024

GOOD Transit is a Civil Right

If you can't get to things, you cannot live a full life. If you cannot access training and education, work, essential services, shops, entertainment and recreation, social activities, and active citizenship, you are being left out. If government policies, priorities, and budgets promote and maintain inaccessibility, those policies, priorities, and budgets have to change.

For the past six years, the Labor Network for Sustainability has led a national effort to highlight the importance of accessible and sustainable public transportation as a civil right on February 4, the birthday of Rosa Parks. Learn more at their site.

In La Crosse, we have celebrated Transit Equity Days (TED) since 2020, and this year we will have programming from Monday, January 29 through Sunday, February 4. TED events will help us consider our transportation system--what's fair and equitable, what's sustainable, what's the best use of public space and money, and how we ensure everyone can access a full life with or without a car.

During TED, fares on La Crosse's public transit system will be free. On Tuesday, January 30, fares on the Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit (SMRT) system will be free. There will be displays at the La Crosse Public Library and the Transit Center. Special programs will include a workshop about living car-free, a webinar about getting better public transit access to public parks, and a free film screening hosted by the AARP. 

Special programming includes:

Wednesday, January 31 at 7 p.m. at the Southside Neighborhood Center: TRANSPORTATION LIBERATION - The joy and freedom of not owning a car. Sustainable living advocates Obbie King and Rozie Brooks describe the steps on their trail to Transportation Liberation. This multimedia show explains the why's, how's, and what to do now's of the "less driving" lifestyle. FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. 

Thursday, February 1 at 6:30 p.m. online: Transit to Trails for All - Hosted by Sierra Club - Wisconsin Chapter and Sierra Club - Coulee Region Group this online event will feature examples of how activists and planners are trying to connect people to green spaces via transit, including stories from right here in Wisconsin and lessons learned from the national campaign. REGISTER HERE FOR ACCESS LINK:

Sunday, February 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the Rivoli: The Rebellious Life of
Mrs. Rosa Parks
- MUST PRE-REGISTER (free)  Public Transit provides basic mobility for many in our communities. It is also essential urban infrastructure – just like roads, bridges, tunnels and utilities – that is crucial to the economic, social and environmental well-being of all our regions. Everyone in the community has the right to mobility. As part of La Crosse's Transit Equity Week, AARP Wisconsin is pleased to host this screening in collaboration with La Crosse Area Transit Advocates. A panel discussion on transit equity will immediately follow the screening. The event is FREE and open to all, but registration is required.

This event is for car drivers and for non-drivers! Car drivers are less safe, spend more money, use disproportionally more public space and budgets, and pollute far more than those who walk, bike, and use public transit. One of the most impactful things a household can do to immediately and dramatically to reduce it's carbon emissions is switch from driving a private fossil-fueled vehicle to using active transportation.

It's easy to say, well, the bus doesn't really work for me, so I'll just keep driving. But, we need people to say, the bus doesn't really work for me so I will work to make it better. Not only is better bus service better for our fellow humans, our communities, our environment, and our climate, car-drivers can become non-drivers in the blink of an eye.

As it is, the Wisconsin DOT estimates up to 40 percent of City of La Crosse residents age 15 and older are non-drivers. Children and youth, those with health conditions or disabilities, people who can't afford cars, elders, and those who just don't want to drive should not have to miss an appointment, skip a social event, or quit a job because the bus doesn't go there or stops running too early. We can increase access and equity by pushing for a better public transit system. Learn more at

"An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport." -Enrique PeƱalosa


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